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Video shows explosion, sounds of gunfire during Tacoma immigrant detention center attack

Note: An earlier version of this story incorrectly said the video had been released by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. The video was released by The GEO Group.

Newly released video made during the July 13 attack at a Tacoma immigrant detention facility shows the suspect’s vehicle exploding in flames as gunfire is heard.

Vashon Island resident Willem Van Spronsen was shot and killed outside the Northwest Detention Center by Tacoma police when he was found carrying an assault rife and throwing Molotov cocktails.

The GEO Group, the owners and operators of the facility, released the video to The News Tribune and KIRO-TV Thursday evening after first releasing it to FOX News Thursday morning.

GEO Group runs the facility for U. S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

“This video footage shows the seriousness of the threat to our employees and immigrants housed at the Tacoma Processing Center,” GEO said in a statement. “We commend the Tacoma Police Department for its heroic actions in responding to this horrific act of terrorism.”

Four officers fired at Van Spronsen, 69, after he pointed a rifle at them and ignored commands to drop the gun at the Tideflats facility. Yelling followed by at least 15 shots can be heard on the video about 20 seconds after the explosion.

Van Spronsen set his own vehicle on fire. He also tried to ignite or blow up a propane tank at the site, an ICE official said.

Van Spronsen was hit twice and died at the scene. Investigators found a rifle near him that they said appeared to have malfunctioned during the attack.

Police described Van Spronsen as a “known anarchist” who claimed association with Antifa. He had previously protested outside the Tacoma detention center and been arrested there.

The detention center is the scene of frequent protests and a gathering spot for those offering aid to the families of detainees.

GEO, in its statement, said that it has no say over who is detained at the facility that it has operated for more than 20 years; nor does it have any influence over legal proceedings held there.

Craig Sailor has worked for The News Tribune for 20 years as a reporter, editor and photographer. He previously worked at The Olympian and at other newspapers in Nevada and California.
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